In Circ: Launches of 2008 show the big picture

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According to MediaFinder.com, 335 new magazines were launched in 2008 — not bad, considering the circumstances. In fact, the number is not much lower than the 389 new titles that MediaFinder reported as launching in 2007.  

Loyal DMNews readers can probably guess, from our past coverage, which categories saw the most growth this year. With 31 new additions, health blew other categories out of the water. I'm guessing that the rising popularity of other health-related goods, like organic foods, combined with rising health-issue awareness (thanks, in part, to the presidential candidates' healthcare stumping), pushed smart publishers to this sector. MediaFinder also points to the Baby Boomer population as a prime mover behind the profusion of health titles; not only does this cohort have a keen interest in health, they also have the demographic numbers to lure advertisers.

Regional magazines — the largest growth sector in 2007 — also saw a bump. The 24 new titles in this sector included the luxury glossy Michigan Avenue, as well as Mountain Time Magazine and Orange Appeal. Again, I'm placing some praise on larger forces at work. As consumers get more used to personalizing everything else, and as media consumption becomes more fragmented, people will turn to titles that speak specifically to them and give them a sense of community.

Food rounded out the top three categories, with launches ranging from the avant-garde Swallow to Hearst's cable-channel partnership Food Network Magazine.

These results reveal the massive economic shifts of 2008. Though regional magazines have proven a perennial growth machine, 2007 saw community-drive titles closely followed by luxury and business magazines — not exactly green fields anymore.

Will 2009 see a renewed interest in luxury? Will a new front-runner appear? Will new magazines launch at all? It depends on the economy, for sure, but also on the cultural zeitgeist, demographic shifts and whether publishers can find the right idea at the right time.

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